The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down

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The Underside of modern American politics—raw ambition, manipulation, and deception—are revealed in detail in Andrew Young's riveting account of presidential hopeful's meteoric rise and scandalous fall. Like a nonfiction version of All the King's Men, The Politician offers a truly disturbing, even shocking perspective of the risks taken and tactics employed by a man determined to rule the most powerful nation on earth.

Idealistic and ambitious, Andrew Young volunteered for John ...

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The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down

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Overview

The Underside of modern American politics—raw ambition, manipulation, and deception—are revealed in detail in Andrew Young's riveting account of presidential hopeful's meteoric rise and scandalous fall. Like a nonfiction version of All the King's Men, The Politician offers a truly disturbing, even shocking perspective of the risks taken and tactics employed by a man determined to rule the most powerful nation on earth.

Idealistic and ambitious, Andrew Young volunteered for John Edwards's campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1998 and quickly became the candidate's right-hand man. As the senator became a national star, Young's responsibilities grew. For a decade he was this politician's confidant and he was assured he was "like family." In time, however, Young was drawn into a series of questionable assignments that culminated with Edwards asking him to help conceal the senator's ongoing adultery. Days before the 2008 presidential primaries began, Young gained international notoriety when the told the world that he was a father of a child being carried by a woman named Rielle Hunter, who was actually the senator's mistress. While Young began a life on the run, hiding from the press with his family and alleged mistress, John Edwards continued to pursue the presidency and then the vice presidency in the future Obama administration.

Young had been the senator's closest aude and most trusted friend. He believed that John Edwards could be a great president, and was assured throughout the cover-up that his boss and his friend would ultimately step forward to both tell the truth protect his aide's career. Neither promise was kept.

Not just a moving personal account of Andrew Young's political education, The Politician also offers a look at the trajectory that made John Edwards the ideal Democratic candidate for president, and the hubris that brought him down, leaving his career, his marriage, and his dreams in ashes.

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
[A] mind-boggling book about the sheer freakiness of Mr. Edwards's hubris, ambition and dishonesty…The factoids in The Politician are apt to be widely disseminated. But this…is a book worth reading for its larger drama. With a title that ultimately works like a shiv in the ribs, Mr. Young's book examines what a politician really is: the value of his words…the extent of his feelings of entitlement, the outrageousness of his ego…and the gap between his public convictions and private behavior.—The New York Times
From the Publisher
"[The Politician is] beach reading featuring unforgettable characters spilling sensational secrets." —-Maureen Dowd, The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312640651
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/30/2010
  • Pages: 301
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Andrew Young was John Edwards's longest serving and most trusted aide. He raised more than $10 million for the politician's various causes and played a key role in Edwards's efforts to become president of the United States.

Kevin Foley has over thirty years' experience in radio and television broadcasting, commercial voice-overs, and audiobook narration. He has recorded over 150 audiobooks, and he won an Earphones Award from AudioFile magazine for his narration of Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky.

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Read an Excerpt

One THE SPELLBINDER That summer, the members of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers went to Myrtle Beach for a meeting where they would network, do business, and attend professional seminars at a beachfront hotel called the Ocean Creek Resort. A palm tree paradise with secluded cottages, hotel towers, pools, and a white-sand beach, the setting was ideal for a working vacation. My job would require putting on a party where the group could meet political candidates and organizing a five-kilometer road race. Otherwise, Cheri and I were free to make the long weekend into a minivacation.

We were dressed in bathing suits and flip-flops when we walked through the hotel lobby and I insisted on stopping in one of the meeting rooms to hear at least the start of a presentation by a Raleigh-based lawyer named John Edwards, who had surprised the state a month before by winning the Democratic Party’s nomination for the United States Senate. (Edwards had spent millions of his own dollars to defeat a big field that included favorite D. G. Martin, who had run for Congress twice before.) It was one o’clock in the afternoon; even if we wasted an hour on this talk, there would be plenty of time for the beach.

In this crowd, Edwards was a superstar. He had amassed a personal fortune in the tens of millions of dollars by suing on behalf of those who had been terribly injured by corporations, hospitals, or individual defendants. By the mid-1990s, he was so highly regarded that other lawyers jammed into courtrooms whenever he made a closing argument. His most famous case involved a little girl who barely survived after being disemboweled by the suction of a pool pump. At the end of the trial, Edwards gave a ninety-minute closing in which he evoked the recent death of his teenage son, Wade, who had been killed in a freak car accident in 1996. His performance won a $25 million verdict for his clients and solidified his legendary stature. But it was just one of more than sixty victories—totaling over $150 million—that he won in roughly a decade. This record helped him become the youngest person ever admitted to the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates, a group comprising the top trial lawyers in the nation.

All of Edwards’s success had given him the means to do anything he wanted with his life, but he would say that it was his son’s death that pushed him toward politics. By all accounts, sixteen-year-old Wade was a smart, talented, and high-spirited young man who loved the outdoors and music, collected sports cards, and owned a future that was as bright as a star. Three weeks before he died, he had attended a White House ceremony for finalists in an essay contest. The theme for entries had been “What it means to be an American.” Wade wrote about accompanying his father to a fire house to vote.

Wade’s death devastated John and Elizabeth Edwards, who grieve to this day. But as John explained when he ran for office, Wade had often told his father he should consider public ser vice. After a period of mourning, Edwards began to think about his son’s advice. He made his decision to jump into politics after watching the movie The American President, in which a widowed president falls in love with a lobbyist. The movie helped him imagine a life of purpose following a great personal loss.

Wealthy, powerful men don’t think small, so when John made the decision to follow his son’s advice, he focused not on the city council or state legislature, but on the United States Senate. He then hired a staff of more than two dozen workers, bought help from some of the top consultants in the country, and easily captured the 1998 Democratic primary.

Edwards’s talk at the Ocean Creek Resort was a chance for people to hear a potentially powerful new political figure, but less than half the seats were filled when Cheri and I entered the conference room where he was going to speak. We took seats in the back, on the aisle, so we could escape quickly, if necessary. (Cheri, who is apolitical, did not want to be stuck in the middle of the crowd.)

Edwards came into the room from behind us, and as he passed me, on the way to the podium, he put his hand on my left shoulder. For a moment, I thought it was my boss trying to get my attention, but when I turned I saw a young-looking guy in a blue suit, white shirt, and striped tie, grinning as though he were my best friend. He had a head of thick, perfectly combed brown hair, steel blue eyes, and a cleft chin. On his lapel was pinned not the usual enamel American flag most politicians wear, but a pin showing the compass-style symbol of the wilderness program for kids called Outward Bound. It had belonged to Wade.

At age forty-five, John Edwards looked like he was in his mid-thirties and moved with the energy of a college quarterback. He brimmed with confidence, but there was nothing overbearing in the way he presented himself. The way he looked at the people in the room, as if he knew each and every one of them, made it easy to understand why he was successful in the courtroom. Juries gotta love this guy, I thought.

Having been a candidate and politician for less than six months, Edwards didn’t have many policy specifics to offer. But the trial lawyers knew he would be on their side in upcoming battles over so-called tort reform efforts by insurance companies, doctors, and Republicans who wanted to restrict our rights to sue when we are harmed. He was one of them and could be counted on to fight for the preservation of the tort system. With this in mind, they were satisfied with his generalizations about other issues like health care and education and helping out the poor and the middle class.

Having grown up the son of a millworker in the textile company town of Robbins, North Carolina, Edwards spoke about these issues with some personal authority. (“I’m the son of a millworker” was a staple phrase in his speeches.) Robbins neighbored the exclusive Pinehurst Resort area, and the contrast between the two communities—one working-class, the other extremely wealthy—was a stark illustration of what Edwards later called “the two Americas.” During high school, he worked cleaning the soot off of ceilings in the mill. In college, he was a package deliveryman. Burdened with the insecurity of coming from a rural town, he found it difficult to believe in himself; thus, whenever he started at a new job or a new school, he thought he was going to fail. He studied textiles as an undergraduate with the thought of returning to Robbins. He was surprised when he got into law school and surprised again when the most worldly, sophisticated, and beautiful woman in his class, Elizabeth Anania, agreed to marry him.

As someone who had heard preaching and speechifying my whole life, I noticed right away that Edwards had a gift. He didn’t just talk about kids who needed help. He painted a picture of a poor kid without health insurance who goes to a rundown school without books and lives in a violent inner-city neighborhood needing somebody’s help to beat the odds and succeed.

Edwards took control of the room, and people started to come in and fill the empty chairs. Trial lawyers are a tough audience, but he captured them so completely that when he came to the end of his talk and asked everyone to “humor me a minute and close your eyes,” they actually went along with him. (I know, because I sneaked a peek.) As the spellbound crowd grew quiet, Edwards asked us to picture in our minds all the people—children, poor families, millworkers, middle-class parents, older folks, and so forth—who had been left behind in the era of Reaganomics and Wall Street booms, and who deserved better. He then borrowed a quote from Gandhi and told us we could “be the change” that we all hoped would make things better.

“We are a country that speaks out for those without a voice,” he said, “a country that fights for what we believe in. When we stand up for people without health care, for people who live in poverty, when we stand up for veterans, America rises.”

At about this moment, with everyone practically hypnotized by his words, Edwards stopped and asked us to open our eyes and stand. “Come on now,” he said, “just join me.” As the audience complied, Edwards’s voice got a little stronger and he scanned the crowd, trying to catch every eye he could and connect, if just for a second.

“I promise you, if you join me, we will change this country!” he said. “And the folks in Washington and on Wall Street will hear you loud and clear. They will know that their grip on power and money is coming loose. They will know that America is rising. Thank you for standing up.”

The applause that answered Edwards’s speech was loud and sustained. In a room filled with litigators who considered themselves to be highly skilled advocates and public speakers, he had proven himself to be in a league of his own. I was as impressed and inspired as anyone, and I turned to Cheri and said, “This guy is going to be president one day. … I’m going to find a way to work for him.” She looked at me, unimpressed, rolled her eyes, and said, “Let’s go to the beach.”

After the noise died down, a crowd of people gathered around Edwards. Although I would have liked to talk with him, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get close. Cheri and I stuck to our plan, heading for the sand and the ocean. But later in the afternoon, I spotted Edwards as he left the hotel and headed for his car alone. I couldn’t help but notice that it was a beat-up Buick Park Avenue—dark blue, dirty, and dented—and that when he opened the door, an empty Diet Coke can and assorted papers fell out onto the pavement. Edwards chased down the trash and picked it up. The dirty car and the fact that he was so dedicated that he was driving it himself to campaign stops helped convince me that he was entirely sincere. He really did want to make the world a better place, and believed he could. (Much later I would learn that the car was a bit of a ruse. A multimillionaire, Edwards started driving the Buick and put away his BMW and Lexus coupe to effect an “everyman” image.)

Money—for advertising, travel, events, workers, and the like—is the lifeblood of politics at every level, and while John Edwards would pour millions of his own dollars into his first campaign, he also needed donations, which would fill his war chest and show he had serious support. Trial lawyers were a natural target for his fund-raising effort, and soon after Edwards spoke to the trial lawyers academy, I was asked to put together a phone bank operation that would contact our members and raise money to help his campaign.

Although almost everyone hates working the phones to raise campaign money, I don’t. My usual fear of public speaking doesn’t affect me on the phone, and I actually enjoyed the challenge. I would gather a group of six or eight telemarketers and back them up with the candidate and a few of our prominent academy members like Edwards’s law partner, David Kirby, and Wade Byrd, who was a big Edwards supporter from Fayetteville. (A character and a half, Byrd was a profane, boisterous guy who looked a lot like the actor Nick Nolte, roared around in a convertible Jaguar, and enjoyed expensive cigars and The Macallan single-malt Scotch.) The telemarketers would do the work of trying to get folks on the phone, which was roughly a one-in-five proposition. Whenever they got through, they’d pass the call to me, Edwards, or one of the prominent attorneys. It was a bit like fishing. Sometimes the clock would tick for half an hour and you’d get nothing. At other times we’d hit a lucky streak and everyone would get a bite at the same time. I added to the buzz by posting tallies on big sheets of paper stuck up on the wall. This made the whole thing like a game.

The keys to success with a telephone bank include conviction—you absolutely must believe in your candidate—keen listening, and a sense of timing. You aren’t going to raise much money if you spend twenty minutes on the phone with each person, and if you listen carefully, you can tell fairly quickly whether someone is likely to respond. I got pretty good at figuring out when I was wasting my time, and then saying, “Lordy, I’ve got another call coming in. I’ve gotta go.” I also knew how to land a fish when I got him hooked. Once, as I talked to a guy who was offering to give us the maximum donation allowed, I realized he thought he was actually talking to John Edwards, who was sitting next to me. I passed him a note that read, “He thinks he’s talking to you.” When I tried to hand him the phone, Edwards laughed and mouthed, “Keep going.” I did, and the fellow wound up “maxing out,” which meant he sent checks for the maximum amount under his name and his wife’s.

Edwards took a lot of calls during our first phone bank session, which he attended with his chief fund-raiser, Julianna Smoot. A native North Carolinian, thirty-one-year-old Julianna was just beginning to establish herself as a political consultant and finance expert for Democrats. With blue eyes and brown hair streaked with blond, she looked a little like Hillary Clinton and could match her when it came to smarts and intensity. In a business dominated by type A personalities, she was type A+ and an extremely effective and loyal right-hand woman. She helped Edwards home in on the health-care issues—a lot of people were angry with their insurance companies—and pick apart the weaknesses in the positions and campaign of the incumbent, Lauch Faircloth. Edwards was also guided by a first-time campaign manager named Josh Stein. A sincere, talented guy who grew up in Chapel Hill and graduated Harvard Law School, he was the kind of guy you want working for you in politics. Edwards also hired a top consultant/pollster named Harrison Hickman.

The incumbent, Republican Faircloth, was rich like John Edwards, but the similarities ended there. A seventy-year-old who had made his fortune in hog farming, Faircloth was an uninspiring speaker, and he looked terrible on television. After thirty or more years as a Democrat, he had switched to Republican in order to win the support of Jesse Helms. In 1992, he ran a nasty campaign where he used coded racist messages to unseat Terry Sanford. In Washington, Faircloth gained notoriety as a rabid critic of President Bill Clinton. He was obsessed with the Whitewater real-estate deal and Monica Lewinsky. In North Carolina, he failed to respond to constituents with the efficiency that made Helms so popular, and his plodding style was a handicap on the stump.

From the start of the campaign for Senate, Edwards stressed education, health care, and Social Security and was so good at rallies and on television that he excited even lifelong Republicans. (Typical was a “man on the street” named James Walker, who told the Winston-Salem paper he felt as though Edwards was “talking to me” when he appeared on TV.) Edwards spoke about restoring “integrity” in Washington, and his support for the death penalty helped him deal with charges that he was “ultraliberal.” He used his inexperience to claim to be a true outsider who would shake up national politics.

In his campaign, Faircloth had to do without his former guru/consultant Arthur Finkelstein—a slash-and-burn strategist—because Finkelstein had recently been outed as gay, and a superconservative senator couldn’t allow himself to be associated with a homosexual. Nevertheless, he followed the Finkelstein recipe, painting Edwards as an irresponsible ambulance chaser and running incendiary anti-Clinton TV ads attempting to make Edwards guilty by association. Both national parties threw big resources into the race. Clinton campaigned for Edwards. Former president George Herbert Walker Bush and his son, the future president, stumped for Faircloth. The last in de pen dent polls of the campaign gave Faircloth a slight lead, within the margin of error.

Like everyone else volunteering on the campaign, I threw myself into the effort, especially in the final weeks. I made hundreds of phone calls and used every connection I could to drum up donations and votes. Julianna had me put out hundreds of yard signs, including daily replacements of the signs in the Edwardses’ yard, which were shredded nightly by his Republican neighbors.

On election night, Cheri and I went to the ballroom of the North Raleigh Hilton, which was the Democratic Party’s headquarters for the evening. We were settling in for a long night when suddenly the results were announced by CNN at 8:45 P.M., with a graphic that showed Edwards the winner, 51 percent to 47 percent. (A third-party candidate got 2 percent of the vote.) Analysis would later show that Edwards won with a big majority among blacks and women and that he benefited from a national backlash against the Republican moralizers who had hounded President Clinton. (I also believed I saw in this the beginning of the end for the old Republican strategy of exploiting racism for votes.) But at the moment, all anyone knew was that Edwards had been elected. We shouted and hugged and cried as if we were members of a team that had just won the Super Bowl.

During the party that ensued, Wade Byrd brought me up to the Edwards suite in the hotel, where the senatorelect was getting used to the idea that he had won. Earlier in the day, he had refused to believe Harrison Hickman when he predicted a victory. In fact, he was so certain he was going to lose that he prepared only a concession statement and no victory speech. Now he seemed overjoyed as he celebrated with his wife, Elizabeth, teenage daughter, Cate, and infant daughter, Emma Claire, as well as his friends and campaign folks. But while he was the center of attention, Edwards impressed me when he noticed Emma Claire starting to cry and quickly picked her up and found a pacifier to help soothe her.

After a brief chat on the phone with President Clinton, Edwards went downstairs to the ballroom. Backstage, Elizabeth grabbed him and said, “You are a senator now. Act like one. The whole country is about to get their first impression of you.” The place exploded when he appeared, and he had trouble controlling the celebration as he praised his opponent, paid homage to Terry Sanford, who had recently died, and thanked everyone who had helped him. But the lines that struck me in the heart were near the end of the speech. “A very important thing happened today,” he told the happy crowd. “The people of North Carolina voted their hopes, instead of their fears.” To native Tar Heel Democrats like me, long distressed to be represented by a divisive figure like Jesse Helms, this was an amazing outcome.

Excerpted from The Politician by Andrew Young.

Copyright © 2010 by Andrew Young.

Published in 2010 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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First Chapter

The Politician

An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down
By Andrew Young

Thomas Dunne Books

Copyright © 2010 Andrew Young
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312640651

One
THE SPELLBINDER
That summer, the members of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers went to Myrtle Beach for a meeting where they would network, do business, and attend professional seminars at a beachfront hotel called the Ocean Creek Resort. A palm tree paradise with secluded cottages, hotel towers, pools, and a white-sand beach, the setting was ideal for a working vacation. My job would require putting on a party where the group could meet political candidates and organizing a five-kilometer road race. Otherwise, Cheri and I were free to make the long weekend into a minivacation.
We were dressed in bathing suits and flip-flops when we walked through the hotel lobby and I insisted on stopping in one of the meeting rooms to hear at least the start of a presentation by a Raleigh-based lawyer named John Edwards, who had surprised the state a month before by winning the Democratic Party’s nomination for the United States Senate. (Edwards had spent millions of his own dollars to defeat a big field that included favorite D. G. Martin, who had run for Congress twice before.) It was one o’clock in the afternoon; even if we wasted an hour on this talk, there would be plenty of time for the beach.
In this crowd, Edwards was a superstar. He had amassed a personal fortune in the tens of millions of dollars by suing on behalf of those who had been terribly injured by corporations, hospitals, or individual defendants. By the mid-1990s, he was so highly regarded that other lawyers jammed into courtrooms whenever he made a closing argument. His most famous case involved a little girl who barely survived after being disemboweled by the suction of a pool pump. At the end of the trial, Edwards gave a ninety-minute closing in which he evoked the recent death of his teenage son, Wade, who had been killed in a freak car accident in 1996. His performance won a $25 million verdict for his clients and solidified his legendary stature. But it was just one of more than sixty victories—totaling over $150 million—that he won in roughly a decade. This record helped him become the youngest person ever admitted to the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates, a group comprising the top trial lawyers in the nation.
All of Edwards’s success had given him the means to do anything he wanted with his life, but he would say that it was his son’s death that pushed him toward politics. By all accounts, sixteen-year-old Wade was a smart, talented, and high-spirited young man who loved the outdoors and music, collected sports cards, and owned a future that was as bright as a star. Three weeks before he died, he had attended a White House ceremony for finalists in an essay contest. The theme for entries had been “What it means to be an American.” Wade wrote about accompanying his father to a fire house to vote.
Wade’s death devastated John and Elizabeth Edwards, who grieve to this day. But as John explained when he ran for office, Wade had often told his father he should consider public ser vice. After a period of mourning, Edwards began to think about his son’s advice. He made his decision to jump into politics after watching the movie The American President, in which a widowed president falls in love with a lobbyist. The movie helped him imagine a life of purpose following a great personal loss.
Wealthy, powerful men don’t think small, so when John made the decision to follow his son’s advice, he focused not on the city council or state legislature, but on the United States Senate. He then hired a staff of more than two dozen workers, bought help from some of the top consultants in the country, and easily captured the 1998 Democratic primary.
Edwards’s talk at the Ocean Creek Resort was a chance for people to hear a potentially powerful new political figure, but less than half the seats were filled when Cheri and I entered the conference room where he was going to speak. We took seats in the back, on the aisle, so we could escape quickly, if necessary. (Cheri, who is apolitical, did not want to be stuck in the middle of the crowd.)
Edwards came into the room from behind us, and as he passed me, on the way to the podium, he put his hand on my left shoulder. For a moment, I thought it was my boss trying to get my attention, but when I turned I saw a young-looking guy in a blue suit, white shirt, and striped tie, grinning as though he were my best friend. He had a head of thick, perfectly combed brown hair, steel blue eyes, and a cleft chin. On his lapel was pinned not the usual enamel American flag most politicians wear, but a pin showing the compass-style symbol of the wilderness program for kids called Outward Bound. It had belonged to Wade.
At age forty-five, John Edwards looked like he was in his mid-thirties and moved with the energy of a college quarterback. He brimmed with confidence, but there was nothing overbearing in the way he presented himself. The way he looked at the people in the room, as if he knew each and every one of them, made it easy to understand why he was successful in the courtroom. Juries gotta love this guy, I thought.
Having been a candidate and politician for less than six months, Edwards didn’t have many policy specifics to offer. But the trial lawyers knew he would be on their side in upcoming battles over so-called tort reform efforts by insurance companies, doctors, and Republicans who wanted to restrict our rights to sue when we are harmed. He was one of them and could be counted on to fight for the preservation of the tort system. With this in mind, they were satisfied with his generalizations about other issues like health care and education and helping out the poor and the middle class.
Having grown up the son of a millworker in the textile company town of Robbins, North Carolina, Edwards spoke about these issues with some personal authority. (“I’m the son of a millworker” was a staple phrase in his speeches.) Robbins neighbored the exclusive Pinehurst Resort area, and the contrast between the two communities—one working-class, the other extremely wealthy—was a stark illustration of what Edwards later called “the two Americas.” During high school, he worked cleaning the soot off of ceilings in the mill. In college, he was a package deliveryman. Burdened with the insecurity of coming from a rural town, he found it difficult to believe in himself; thus, whenever he started at a new job or a new school, he thought he was going to fail. He studied textiles as an undergraduate with the thought of returning to Robbins. He was surprised when he got into law school and surprised again when the most worldly, sophisticated, and beautiful woman in his class, Elizabeth Anania, agreed to marry him.
As someone who had heard preaching and speechifying my whole life, I noticed right away that Edwards had a gift. He didn’t just talk about kids who needed help. He painted a picture of a poor kid without health insurance who goes to a rundown school without books and lives in a violent inner-city neighborhood needing somebody’s help to beat the odds and succeed.
Edwards took control of the room, and people started to come in and fill the empty chairs. Trial lawyers are a tough audience, but he captured them so completely that when he came to the end of his talk and asked everyone to “humor me a minute and close your eyes,” they actually went along with him. (I know, because I sneaked a peek.) As the spellbound crowd grew quiet, Edwards asked us to picture in our minds all the people—children, poor families, millworkers, middle-class parents, older folks, and so forth—who had been left behind in the era of Reaganomics and Wall Street booms, and who deserved better. He then borrowed a quote from Gandhi and told us we could “be the change” that we all hoped would make things better.
“We are a country that speaks out for those without a voice,” he said, “a country that fights for what we believe in. When we stand up for people without health care, for people who live in poverty, when we stand up for veterans, America rises.”
At about this moment, with everyone practically hypnotized by his words, Edwards stopped and asked us to open our eyes and stand. “Come on now,” he said, “just join me.” As the audience complied, Edwards’s voice got a little stronger and he scanned the crowd, trying to catch every eye he could and connect, if just for a second.
“I promise you, if you join me, we will change this country!” he said. “And the folks in Washington and on Wall Street will hear you loud and clear. They will know that their grip on power and money is coming loose. They will know that America is rising. Thank you for standing up.”
The applause that answered Edwards’s speech was loud and sustained. In a room filled with litigators who considered themselves to be highly skilled advocates and public speakers, he had proven himself to be in a league of his own. I was as impressed and inspired as anyone, and I turned to Cheri and said, “This guy is going to be president one day. … I’m going to find a way to work for him.” She looked at me, unimpressed, rolled her eyes, and said, “Let’s go to the beach.”
After the noise died down, a crowd of people gathered around Edwards. Although I would have liked to talk with him, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get close. Cheri and I stuck to our plan, heading for the sand and the ocean. But later in the afternoon, I spotted Edwards as he left the hotel and headed for his car alone. I couldn’t help but notice that it was a beat-up Buick Park Avenue—dark blue, dirty, and dented—and that when he opened the door, an empty Diet Coke can and assorted papers fell out onto the pavement. Edwards chased down the trash and picked it up. The dirty car and the fact that he was so dedicated that he was driving it himself to campaign stops helped convince me that he was entirely sincere. He really did want to make the world a better place, and believed he could. (Much later I would learn that the car was a bit of a ruse. A multimillionaire, Edwards started driving the Buick and put away his BMW and Lexus coupe to effect an “everyman” image.)
Money—for advertising, travel, events, workers, and the like—is the lifeblood of politics at every level, and while John Edwards would pour millions of his own dollars into his first campaign, he also needed donations, which would fill his war chest and show he had serious support. Trial lawyers were a natural target for his fund-raising effort, and soon after Edwards spoke to the trial lawyers academy, I was asked to put together a phone bank operation that would contact our members and raise money to help his campaign.
Although almost everyone hates working the phones to raise campaign money, I don’t. My usual fear of public speaking doesn’t affect me on the phone, and I actually enjoyed the challenge. I would gather a group of six or eight telemarketers and back them up with the candidate and a few of our prominent academy members like Edwards’s law partner, David Kirby, and Wade Byrd, who was a big Edwards supporter from Fayetteville. (A character and a half, Byrd was a profane, boisterous guy who looked a lot like the actor Nick Nolte, roared around in a convertible Jaguar, and enjoyed expensive cigars and The Macallan single-malt Scotch.) The telemarketers would do the work of trying to get folks on the phone, which was roughly a one-in-five proposition. Whenever they got through, they’d pass the call to me, Edwards, or one of the prominent attorneys. It was a bit like fishing. Sometimes the clock would tick for half an hour and you’d get nothing. At other times we’d hit a lucky streak and everyone would get a bite at the same time. I added to the buzz by posting tallies on big sheets of paper stuck up on the wall. This made the whole thing like a game.
The keys to success with a telephone bank include conviction—you absolutely must believe in your candidate—keen listening, and a sense of timing. You aren’t going to raise much money if you spend twenty minutes on the phone with each person, and if you listen carefully, you can tell fairly quickly whether someone is likely to respond. I got pretty good at figuring out when I was wasting my time, and then saying, “Lordy, I’ve got another call coming in. I’ve gotta go.” I also knew how to land a fish when I got him hooked. Once, as I talked to a guy who was offering to give us the maximum donation allowed, I realized he thought he was actually talking to John Edwards, who was sitting next to me. I passed him a note that read, “He thinks he’s talking to you.” When I tried to hand him the phone, Edwards laughed and mouthed, “Keep going.” I did, and the fellow wound up “maxing out,” which meant he sent checks for the maximum amount under his name and his wife’s.
Edwards took a lot of calls during our first phone bank session, which he attended with his chief fund-raiser, Julianna Smoot. A native North Carolinian, thirty-one-year-old Julianna was just beginning to establish herself as a political consultant and finance expert for Democrats. With blue eyes and brown hair streaked with blond, she looked a little like Hillary Clinton and could match her when it came to smarts and intensity. In a business dominated by type A personalities, she was type A+ and an extremely effective and loyal right-hand woman. She helped Edwards home in on the health-care issues—a lot of people were angry with their insurance companies—and pick apart the weaknesses in the positions and campaign of the incumbent, Lauch Faircloth. Edwards was also guided by a first-time campaign manager named Josh Stein. A sincere, talented guy who grew up in Chapel Hill and graduated Harvard Law School, he was the kind of guy you want working for you in politics. Edwards also hired a top consultant/pollster named Harrison Hickman.
The incumbent, Republican Faircloth, was rich like John Edwards, but the similarities ended there. A seventy-year-old who had made his fortune in hog farming, Faircloth was an uninspiring speaker, and he looked terrible on television. After thirty or more years as a Democrat, he had switched to Republican in order to win the support of Jesse Helms. In 1992, he ran a nasty campaign where he used coded racist messages to unseat Terry Sanford. In Washington, Faircloth gained notoriety as a rabid critic of President Bill Clinton. He was obsessed with the Whitewater real-estate deal and Monica Lewinsky. In North Carolina, he failed to respond to constituents with the efficiency that made Helms so popular, and his plodding style was a handicap on the stump.
From the start of the campaign for Senate, Edwards stressed education, health care, and Social Security and was so good at rallies and on television that he excited even lifelong Republicans. (Typical was a “man on the street” named James Walker, who told the Winston-Salem paper he felt as though Edwards was “talking to me” when he appeared on TV.) Edwards spoke about restoring “integrity” in Washington, and his support for the death penalty helped him deal with charges that he was “ultraliberal.” He used his inexperience to claim to be a true outsider who would shake up national politics.
In his campaign, Faircloth had to do without his former guru/consultant Arthur Finkelstein—a slash-and-burn strategist—because Finkelstein had recently been outed as gay, and a superconservative senator couldn’t allow himself to be associated with a homosexual. Nevertheless, he followed the Finkelstein recipe, painting Edwards as an irresponsible ambulance chaser and running incendiary anti-Clinton TV ads attempting to make Edwards guilty by association. Both national parties threw big resources into the race. Clinton campaigned for Edwards. Former president George Herbert Walker Bush and his son, the future president, stumped for Faircloth. The last in de pen dent polls of the campaign gave Faircloth a slight lead, within the margin of error.
Like everyone else volunteering on the campaign, I threw myself into the effort, especially in the final weeks. I made hundreds of phone calls and used every connection I could to drum up donations and votes. Julianna had me put out hundreds of yard signs, including daily replacements of the signs in the Edwardses’ yard, which were shredded nightly by his Republican neighbors.
On election night, Cheri and I went to the ballroom of the North Raleigh Hilton, which was the Democratic Party’s headquarters for the evening. We were settling in for a long night when suddenly the results were announced by CNN at 8:45 P.M., with a graphic that showed Edwards the winner, 51 percent to 47 percent. (A third-party candidate got 2 percent of the vote.) Analysis would later show that Edwards won with a big majority among blacks and women and that he benefited from a national backlash against the Republican moralizers who had hounded President Clinton. (I also believed I saw in this the beginning of the end for the old Republican strategy of exploiting racism for votes.) But at the moment, all anyone knew was that Edwards had been elected. We shouted and hugged and cried as if we were members of a team that had just won the Super Bowl.
During the party that ensued, Wade Byrd brought me up to the Edwards suite in the hotel, where the senatorelect was getting used to the idea that he had won. Earlier in the day, he had refused to believe Harrison Hickman when he predicted a victory. In fact, he was so certain he was going to lose that he prepared only a concession statement and no victory speech. Now he seemed overjoyed as he celebrated with his wife, Elizabeth, teenage daughter, Cate, and infant daughter, Emma Claire, as well as his friends and campaign folks. But while he was the center of attention, Edwards impressed me when he noticed Emma Claire starting to cry and quickly picked her up and found a pacifier to help soothe her.
After a brief chat on the phone with President Clinton, Edwards went downstairs to the ballroom. Backstage, Elizabeth grabbed him and said, “You are a senator now. Act like one. The whole country is about to get their first impression of you.” The place exploded when he appeared, and he had trouble controlling the celebration as he praised his opponent, paid homage to Terry Sanford, who had recently died, and thanked everyone who had helped him. But the lines that struck me in the heart were near the end of the speech. “A very important thing happened today,” he told the happy crowd. “The people of North Carolina voted their hopes, instead of their fears.” To native Tar Heel Democrats like me, long distressed to be represented by a divisive figure like Jesse Helms, this was an amazing outcome.
Excerpted from The Politician by Andrew Young.
Copyright © 2010 by Andrew Young.
Published in 2010 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.


Continues...

Excerpted from The Politician by Andrew Young Copyright © 2010 by Andrew Young. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 243 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 243 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 9, 2010

    Wow! Engrossing Study of Humanity

    I was absorbed in reading this page turner. We all know the outcome of the election and the baby daddy, but life is all in the details.

    We see John Edwards turn from an affable, likable "rock star" politician into a totally despicable character. He cheats on his wife in her own bed and makes plans with his mistress to become his first lady after his wife's death. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that we didn't elect him.

    What left me cold was the author's responsibility for some of the outcome. Mr. Young enabled the politician every step of the way. He admitted that this was for his personal gain. However, one must reflect on the type of person who would go to the lengths of the author to reach his goals of "fame by association." Amazingly, Mr. Young never reports of asking for Edwards to guarantee his future in writing (or any other tangible way). Certainly a man of Mr. Edward's wealth and acuity could easily guarantee a protection for his loyal aide and "friend." One can only conclude that Mr. Young knew full well that Mr. Edwards would never be held to his promises. So why would someone put his family through this hell?

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2010

    Amazing Book

    This is a well written book and I say thank you to Andrew Young for coming clean. He dedicated his life and career to John and Elizabeth Edwards and they used him as they did every one else. People have to stop shooting the messenger. Both John and Elizabeth Edwards deceived the American people. John Edwards is the scum of the earth - imagine he could have been in the White House!! We deserve to know the truth.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Andrew Young - a people-pleaser par extraordinaire

    I wondered how Andrew Young, former top aid to disgraced Senator and Vice Presidential - Presidential candidate John Edwards of North Carolina could take the fall in the ruse to deflect the media's relentless attraction on his affair and love child with Rielle Hunter. His candid revelation about not only John and Elizabeth Edwards' ruthlessness and deception is also a revelation about himself. Young's United Methodist preacher father fell from grace after being caught in an affair when the author was 18 years old. I believe this had a profound effect on him that caused him to lose his identity and merge his self-hood into Edwards' ego. Young's undifferentiated ego was evidenced in the way that the Edwards' used him as their personal lackey. The book is sad because in the end, the Edwards' dropped him like a lead balloon after promising that they would care for him and his family after the crisis that fascinated a nation and ruined Edwards' political aspirations forever. Politician by Andrew Young is not only an insiders tale of the rich and powerful who dupe voters into thinking that they are really concerned about the poor and marginal people of our society, but it is also the story of a man (Young) and totally lost himself and almost lost his family because he lost his own identity which merged with a flawed and narcisstic typical politician in John Edwards. A great read about Edwards and political power brokers and the underlying revelation about how the author lost his selfhood trying to find his Methodist preacher father who betrayed him and his family with his adultery. For all those "yes" people out there, you will see yourself in Andrew Young. A good read to help establish identity is Boundaries by John Townsend and Henry Cloud for people-pleasers like Andrew Young.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    a zebra shows his true stripes

    "the politican" is a very inside account writtion by the aid of john edwards who was with the presidential candidate day in and day out. he was there to show how mr edwards was saying one thing to the public and showing a different different side in his own life. he cheated on his wife while she had cancer and thean whean his mistress had his baby edwards try to blame it all on his aid. this is a very hard to put down and it needs to be remembered at election time cause politicans and candidates do not always talk the talk and walk the walk and this book shows that the voters should hold our lawmakers accountable. great gift idea for friend or family member

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2010

    Some people are just ridiculous and rude

    Don't punish the author with a negative review because of your impatience with a completely different product.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    GREAT JOB OF STORY TELLING

    Wow!! John was my sincere favorite for the President run, but glad all this came out because what a disappointment of a human being he is, including everyone that was involved with him. Although Andrew portrays protecting him, its clear to see that it was all about money & power @ what costs? Reille is just another "Mistress" who seeks fame & fortune and secured her future with an offspring....when will men ever learn....although Cheri is said to be innocent, how could she let family morals and values overrule her true sense of a human being, above all a nurse....The true victim in all of this is Mrs. Edwards, she was betrayed by all the people she trusted the most, even if she was portrayed as evil and powerful, it seems Andrew blames everyone but himself.....Long story short....This book was a great behind the scenes look of political power and greed...well look how all this deceit and greed came crashing down. Andrew should have had enough sense to set his own boundaries as to what is right and wrong...but I know it took courage for him to write this book and glad he did, he did a great job.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    Blind Ambition Wins Another Round

    The most interesting aspect of this book is not the stale revelations about another politician drunk on false dreams of his own fabulousness. Although Andrew Young certainly did not intend it, this book is the sad saga of a young man who glimpses a glittering, streamlined train on its way to the top of the highest mountain and grabs on for the ride of his life. The young man sheds his morality like scales behind him as the speeding train runs round and up and round and up. Until the train derails.

    Then, the young man BLAMES THE TRAIN!

    Well, one must admit, no one would have bought the young man's story, had he not ridden this particular train - who would pay to read about a nobody: Andrew Young? But John Edwards! The fallen beauty with the cancer-stricken fishwife - oh, yes! This book is the clearest tale of a young man seduced by his own greed for money and proximity to power. It is the story of Bud Fox, not Gordon Gekko, but this young Bud has so little understanding of himself that he does not even realize it. He can only shift his feet and make excuses. Except for his (probable) hefty advance from his publisher, Andrew is left with the broken shell of his own character.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    Hmmmm... I had my doubts

    Okay, I admit it... I was an early follower of Edwards' but something about him, and I'm not quite sure what it was, made the hair on the back stand up. And now I know why! Politics has become so cultish here in the U.S. and this book is an eagle eye into the inner circle of a leader and his followers, willing to do whatever needed to be done, no matter what the cost. One would think Young should have snapped out of it early on, just like we assume WE would do, but his explanations makes it easier to understand how the machine takes over. Young makes no excuses for his actions, he did what he did to get ahead, and with his story we can confirm what we suspected all along... politics is an ugly and dirty game.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Politician: Book to Forget

    As a political junkie, I became interested in this book after hearing about it on television. I thought it might prove to be interesting reading, even if in an escapist way. This was one of those books that I was tempted to quit reading more than once, but the obsessive side of me made me finish it. There are very few people you can have sympathy for in this book. You certainly have little sympathy for John Edwards. His tale is all to familiar. Man risks everything for lust. In the end he loses everything, and it was entirely his own fault. No tragedy there. Then there's his wife Elizabeth Edwards. What little sympathy you might have had for her because she is the obvious victim of a philandering husband, is quickly consumed and burned away by her own refusal to see the truth about her husband, and is consumed with vindictiveness to the edge of insanity. It is impossible to feel any kind of sympathy for Andrew Young either. His unwavering faith in the man John Edwards was insane. How could anyone so belittle themselves in the service of a man who is so self-centered and self-important? And then there is Rielle Hunter. It is impossible to feel any kind of sympathy for her either. Her opportunistic manipulation to get what she wanted is more than apparent. Honestly, about the only individuals I had sympathy for was Andrew Young's wife and children. His incessant devotion upended their lives. He dragged his family all over the country is his blind service of John Edwards. He was no more self-centered than John Edwards. If there is an redeeming quality of this book was that now I am finished.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    A Great Read

    I am currently reading this book and find it difficult to put down.
    As a passionate volunteer for the Kerry/Edwards campaign and loyal follower of Edwards to the end of his run for presidency, I can identify with Mr Young. This book is surprisingly well written. I appreciate the raw lesson of the behind the scenes view of politics and the election process. Mr Young tells his side of the story, illustrating how narcissism and addiction to power took down a man who had the opportunity to be a voice for the "two Americas" and truly enact change in our country.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2010

    MUST READ

    Very good book. I am so mad at myself for buying Elizabeth Edwards book "Resilience". I haven't read it yet, and I wont. I believe Andrew's account of what John and Elizabeth Edwards did to him and his family 100%.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2010

    One side of the story

    For me this book speaks to the political arena that is present today. Its concerning but not unexpected to see that this type of thing can happen to individuals involved in backing a politician.

    Of course it is only one side of a story that we all know has many sides to it, somewhere in the middle there is truth.

    I found the book interesting, sad, but real and it paints a picture of the political world that we all fear is reality these days.

    Andrew Young's story is one that seems to display a commitment and loyalty to a individual that went on too long, the sacrifices he and has family made appear to be well beyond what most people would endure, however clearly he was significantly invested in the "plan" and walking away had its negative slant as well.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    a good read for someone interested in politics

    Mr. Young tried his best to be truthful with his confession. This book is one big self serving confession of Andrew Young. Intentionally or not, Mr. Young did reveal a truly ugly fact about a political aids. The fact is that the livelihood of a political aids is completely depended on whether their master stays in his/her office. The deeds of these aids would conduct to keep their master elected is scarier than the devil himself. Another scary thing is how these politicians and their minions are so easily addicted and intoxicated with the sense of power. These sense of power blind some of the most smart and sincere person. Next thing you know, they become very corrupted.

    I also found it very funny how Andrew Young tried so hard to flatter Bunny Melon (he probably was hoping to hit her with more donation money in the future). But I read somewhere else that Bunny Melon is absolutely disgusted with Andrew Young.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Life of a politican.

    A very interesting read. When I saw Andrew Young on talk shows, I thought he was very self serving but after reading the book I can see why he wrote the book and about all the details.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Good but . . .

    I felt this was well written and that the author did not go into any sordid details. Although timely, we all know that John Edwards no longer has a political career.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Andrew Young deserves every cent he makes from this book.

    Thanks to Andrew Young for letting the American public know the real John and Elizabeth Edwards. They are users and abusers. And to think that I wanted him as my president. I'll never think of the word POLITICAN in the same way after reading this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating read

    I felt kind of dirty just reading this book, yet it was fascinating to read how power and adoration quickly transformed John Edwards into a monster. I'm so glad he was exposed for the sham he was.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2010

    It's a page-turner

    John Edwards and Rielle are both classless narcissists who deserve one another. Their behavior is unbelievable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    John Edwards is a Sociopath! Really, he is! Read this book!

    I read "The Politician" in two days thinking it would possibly be a tabloid type tell-all. Boy was I wrong. You get a very candid and well organized book full of behind the scenes information of the Edwards campaign and it will open your eyes and scare the heck out of you. What is amazing is that John Edwards came so close to being in the White House while you learn of all the lies, manipulation and deception that is going on around him. I hope that Elizabeth Edwards will get some type of therapy after all she has been through. The death of their son Wade, her husband starts a family with another woman, her cancer diagnosis, treatment and possible terminal illness, and her emails/voice mails and inappropriate emotional responses splayed out across the media for all to see. I feel alot of compassion for Elizabeth but don't excuse her behavior. Enough of the rambling. Buy the book. You won't be sorry. It is really a good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2010

    Misappropriation of Campaign Funds?

    I loved the book, came away with negative feelings for both John Edwards and Andrew Young after the book's completion. I read both of Elizabeth Edward's books and feel very strongly that she has suffered greatly in her life. Not only did Mrs. Edwards loose a child, but she is currently fighting cancer as well as discovering the fact that her husband John cheated on her. John Edwards should spend the rest of his life contemplating the what ifs for his unfaithfulness. Yes, Andrew Young was a devoted friend and employee of John Edward's but you can't help thinking at some point in his tenure with Edwards, when was he going to do the right thing and walk away. Instead, he choose to stay, always looking for a way to better his own future. At what point should Mr. Young have checked his own moral compass. Lastly, what was the outcome of contributions that went to the Edwards campaign that were misappropriated...that's another matter the reader is left to ponder.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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